Drone Mapping is Crucial for Disc Golf Course Creators and Innovators

Basket of Diavolo hole 15 on a beautiful misty morning in Carolina. Credit to UDisc and downey for photo.

Videogrammetry Background

Photogrammetry is the process of taking photographs of an object or terrain from multiple angles and overlaying the photographs using specialized software to produce a 3D model or map of the object. Photogrammetry has many applications: Land surveying, engineering, real estate, construction, and even medicine, to name a few.

Why Disc Golf?

So lets get to the point. Why Disc Golf? Well, golf course models have been created using drones to help cut maintenance costs, for marketing, and for creating a game plan for players. Although Disc Golf is still in its growth stage, the number of players drastically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Massive 2020 Disc Golf Boom — Credit to UDisc — https://udisc.com/disc-golf-growth-report

Brazos Park East — Waco, TX Drone Photogrammetry Study Using JomezPro Footage from 2021

Hole 1

JomezPro: Hole 1 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Doesn’t model the tree on the left of the fairway past the large bushes

Hole 2

JomezPro: Hole 2 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Many trees in the model are missing the middle part of the trunks (stumps / flying limbs)
  • Basket is not captured very well

Hole 3

JomezPro: Hole 3 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Trees again only captured as stumps and/or floating limbs

Hole 4

JomezPro: Hole 4 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Original fly-through of the hole provided by JomezPro was stitched together & the drone locations were not overlain properly so only the 1st section of the hole is shown

Hole 5

JomezPro: Hole 5 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Quite nicely shows the “tunnel shot” aspect of this par 3
  • The changes in elevation are calculated nicely by the model
  • Trunks are more visible in this tunnel shot

Hole 6

JomezPro: Hole 6 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Another tunnel shot shown nicely through this model
  • Again, the trees in this fairway are more solid, with the trunks more visible

Hole 7

JomezPro: Hole 7 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Model accurately portrays the valley below basket and hazards on sides

Hole 8

JomezPro: Hole 8 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Another tunnel shot interpreted well by the model
  • Certain areas struggled with y-axis (in/out) depth
  • Fairway trees yet again picked up more solidly in this tunnel hole

Hole 9

JomezPro: Hole 9 Fly Through Timestamp

  • Yet again, this long hole had stitched drone fly throughs making it so only the end of the hole was rendered by the model
  • Being in the woods, much of the verticality and fairway trees captured well

Important Takeaways from My Experiment

Using Free Software Creates a Barrier

Zephyr Free only allows 50 photos for rendering — this issue would be easily avoided by simply giving more photos per second to Zephyr to generate the 3D point cloud. Given the 25–30 second clips from Jomez, I fed the model a 2FPS rate. Utilizing the full version of Zephyr would result in much cleaner models of these holes. The rendering of the ground and its topography would also benefit greatly from having more photos fed to the 3d modeling software.

Using Direct Fly-Throughs Poses a Problem

By feeding the model fairway fly-throughs of each hole, certain aspects were not properly rendered by the model. For one, trees in the fairway were often depicted as stumps with possibly flying limbs (their trunks weren’t properly rendered). This creates an additional problem of not knowing how wide certain trees are and how much fairway space they actually take up, which is critical.

  • Using Fairway Fly-Throughs in addition to Perimeter Shots at various heights would be an ideal method for capturing the true essence of a hole.
  • Using a premium 3D modeling software instead of a free version would create more robust models

Disc Golf Photogrammetry Pros and Cons

Pros

  • 3D models can be used for precise tee-sign creation
  • 3D models gives players a game plan without having played a course
  • Utilizing drones is a cost efficient way to model a course or potential course zone
  • 3D models yields better course design and play, allowing owners to charge players more per round of play

Cons

  • Drones may crash on certain highly wooded courses if not driven carefully
  • Some aspects of a model may not render properly in wooded environments

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